Maybe you live in an area where a bear encounter may happen and this is holding you back from enjoying a hike. There are ways to prepare for this, so that you can stay as safe as possible while enjoying the great outdoors.
1. Go with a partner if possible. There are lots of safety reasons to not head out solo, so if at all possible find someone who will go hiking with you. This said, you can still go hiking on your own in bear country, as long as you know what to do.
2. Keep bear spray on you in an easily accessible pocket.
3. Never run. Yes, this does go against human instinct. However, like many other wild animals, if you run this can make a bear give chase. So, you'll want to remain calm and know that walking is best.
4. Do not call attention to yourself. You may have seen on television that people out in the woods call out 'Hey, bear!' to make themselves known and keep the bears away. However, if a bear has already spotted you, it is best to remain calm. Do not throw anything at the bear and do not yell out in any way that may seem like a challenge.
If you see a bear when hiking and the animal stands up, sniffs loudly, or stomps his feet, these can all be signs that the bear just wants to find out who you are. This does not necessarily mean that the bear will attack.
The main goal is for you to speak in a calm voice, do not make sudden movements, and to slowly walk away while keeping the bear in your line of sight.
5. If the bear approaches you, now it is time to change tactics. Yell with as deep of a voice as you can and forcefully throw any objects that you can. Do not throw your phone, as you will need to have it.
6. If the bear attacks you while you are out hiking, do not run or try to climb a tree. The most current advice is to fight. That may seem impossible to you, however you will not have to think about this too much; adrenaline will kick in. Punch, kick, and yell.
Do not let your fear of bears stop you from enjoying hikes. I've seen maybe 20 plus bears during my hikes in Colorado. And only twice did a bear start to approach me.
The world is our playground, and there is so much to explore. Do not miss out on things you enjoy doing because of fear. If you prepare and know how to react, you can enjoy hiking or any other hobby, without worrying about the 'what ifs'.